Cooking Contests for Teens

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A range of cooking competitions are available for teens to enter across the United States, both at local and national levels. The larger competitions usually offer substantial prizes, such as scholarships to culinary schools, which are valuable financially and also offer a good opportunity for teens to begin a career in culinary arts.

Best Teen Chef

  • The Art Institutes annual Best Teen Chef Competition sees high school seniors from across the United States and Canada competing for the chance to be crowned Best Teen Chef. One entrant is awarded the title of Best Teen Chef at each Art Institutes culinary school. This competition provides teens with the opportunity to demonstrate their culinary talents, have fun competing and take an important step toward beginning a career as a professional chef through winning a scholarship to an Art Institutes school. A total of almost $200,000 is awarded in Art Institutes scholarships.

Cooking up Change

  • The Cooking up Change healthy cooking contest is held each year for U.S. high school students to compete in a two-stage competition. Finalists from the first on-line stage are invited to compete in the in-person Cooking up Change competition finals. Teens may enter the competition in teams of three, with the aim of creating the tastiest, healthiest school lunch from a limited ingredient list and a small budget. Prizes include an expenses-paid trip to the competition final in Washington, D.C. and a trophy. The broader aim of the competition is to raise awareness regarding standards of healthy school lunches.

America's Best High School Chef

  • High school juniors and seniors are eligible to enter the America’s Best High School Chef competition, hosted by Monroe College. Two competitions are involved in the challenge, after which one winner is awarded the title of America’s Best Chef, while another winner gains the title of America’s Best Pastry Chef. Competition organizers select 48 entrants to participate in the culinary competition; the winner is awarded a scholarship for the AAS Culinary Arts Programme at Monroe College, valued at up to $30,000 per year, and the chance to study in another country for a semester with the Monroe Study Abroad Program. Of the four competitors selected for the pastry competition, one high school student wins the first prize which involves a scholarship to the AAA Baking and Pastry Arts Program at Monroe College, worth around $30,000, and a semester of study abroad.

Entering the Competitions

  • Most of the larger cooking competitions allow groups or individuals to enter through an on-line application process. For those who prefer to compete on a smaller scale, look for lower-key competitions through advertisements in publications such as local newspapers and on high school notice boards.

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